I need advice on how I can get a refund on a defective ~$186 Sam's Club prescription. They were not only ineffective, but I experienced withdrawal symptoms taking those.

What legal recourse do I have? Obviously, the attorney's fee will cost more than the Rx. Here are the details...

Cutting the tablets in half, it was obvious that the previous tablets --that were effective-- looked different from the last Rx that was not. The tablets that were effective had a layer of dark gray on one side; the "dud" batch did not, but instead had an all-white interior.

As soon as I took the replacement non-time-release alternative Rx prescribed by my physician, I experienced relief from the withdrawal symptoms as well as my medical condition. The M.D. told me that I needed to contact the pharmacy.

Well, both the manager of the Sam's Club pharmacy in Springfield, MO and the lady I spoke with at the drug manufacturer have flatly stated (over the phone) that they will neither accept a return (or even samples for testing) nor refund the price we paid for these dud, ineffective tablets. The lady at the manufacturer told me that they would file a manufacturing defect report to the FDA. That was all.

The pharmacy manager claimed that the tablets for the previous, effective Rx was from the same batch as the last, "dud" Rx refill.

What to do? I've already contacted a local TV news station that has excellent consumer-advocacy spots (On Your Side Contact KY3). However, it now seems clear to me that she is not going to televise this.

  • 1
    Do you still have the bottle from the previous prescription? You could check the manufacturer/batch/etc. However, it sounds like one was time-release and one wasn't. That could definitely have different results.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 20:18
  • 2
    The tablets themselves should have a unique marking on them which you should be able to look up to see if you actually got what you thought you were getting. "Tylenol-3" for example could look something like one of these.
    – brhans
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 20:36
  • @brhans The only marking is 54 [milligrams], embossed on one side of the tablet. The other side is blank. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 21:02
  • @mkennedy I do not, but that previous time-release refill worked. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 21:04
  • Did the effective and ineffective tablets otherwise have the same outward appearance?
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 23:36

2 Answers 2


I have little doubt that you are in the right. The Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in MO would give you a legal right to a refund for breach of warranty from the pharmacy in this case.

The hard part is proving it cost-effectively. This is not a type of dispute in which the prevailing party is entitled to attorneys' fees, although they would be entitled to "court costs" such as filing fees and process server fees if they prevailed. So, small claims court is the only cost effective forum that would be plausible (and it is possible that Sam's Club requires you to agree to an arbitration clause, I don't know as I don't shop there).

The burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence, so a judge might simply believe your testimony and look at the respective pills. But, to really prove it definitively, you'd need an chemical test of the defective pills which would cost hundreds of dollars.

While $189 is enough to be irritating, I'm not sure that it would be worth the half a dozen to dozen hours or so it would take to bring a small claims lawsuit. I'd probably write a letter to someone higher up in the company, stop doing business with them, and give them a bad online review and leave it at that in your shoes.

  • 1
    Chemical analysis would not likely do anything, as it would almost certainly contain the same amount of the active ingredient. For certain medications there are differences in the overall formulation between manufacturers that lead to differences in bioavailability. He more likely got a generic formulation from a different manufacturer than he normally received, as opposed to a "dud" batch having no medication at all. His medication, Ritalin, is actually notorious for having poor quality generic formulations. Wellbutrin would be another example of a medication having such a reputation.
    – David Reed
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 19:03
  • @DavidReed In which case the OP should make sure they discuss the apparent ineffectiveness of the version they were given with the prescribing doctor and make sure that the prescription will be filled out as name-brand only (or the particular generic that was working, depending). Most prescriptions doctors hand out can be filled with any generic version of the medicine, as those are usually the cheaper option for the patient, and they usually only go for name-brand or specific generics when the patient establishes that other versions are ineffective or have bad side effects. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 20:43

If you only want your money back since you did not suffer damages, you could sue them in small claims court. Before doing that make sure you sue the ones who made the error, our you would have to sue again and eat the court costs.

  • Did your doctor prescribe the right drug?
  • Did the pharmacy provide the what the doctor prescribed, but the drug was faulty?
  • Did the pharmacy make a mistake and gave you the wrong drug?

If you sue a large company it is likely that they will try to settle since it is cheaper than paying someone to appear in small claims court.

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